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  • Ashleigh Putt-Fallows

Māori and Pasifika News: First Pacific Language Week, Constitutional Amendments in Niue, Treaty Principles Bill Under Scrutiny

Reported by ASHLEIGH PUTT-FALLOWS (she/her/ia) | Ngāti Whātua, Ngāpuhi-Ngāti Hine, Tūhoe

First Pacific Language Week kicks off this week!

Gasav Ne Fäeag Rotumạn Ta—Rotuman Language Week was last week (May 12th-18th) and kicked off our official Pacific language weeks, supported by the Ministry of Pacific Peoples. There will be a total of 11 Pacific language weeks running from the 12th of May to the 30th of November—including Rotuma, Samoa, Kiribati, Cook Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Fiji, Niue and Tokelau and, for the first time, Solomon Islands Pidgin and Papua New Guinea Tok Pisin. 

DPM Winston Peters leads Pacific tour

Last week, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters embarked on a significant Pacific engagement tour to four nations—Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and Tuvalu. He was also supposed to travel to New Caledonia but due to civil unrest was unable to. The tour, which took place from the 12th of May to the 18th of May, aimed to address priority issues such as the impacts of climate change, development priorities, and challenges to broader stability. Peters was accompanied by Health Minister and Minister for Pacific Peoples Dr Shane Reti; Minister of Climate Change Simon Watts; Chair of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee Tim van de Molen; and Opposition Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs David Parker. 

Niue Assembly Passes Constitutional Amendments Ahead of 50th Anniversary.

The Niue Assembly has made significant strides towards self-governance and Pacific identity with the approval of constitutional amendments. These amendments, which include changing the title from “Premier” to “Prime Minister”, expanding the Cabinet, and extending Assembly terms, passed their second reading. Premier Tagelegi underscored that these changes mark a pivotal moment in Niue’s history, particularly as the island approaches its 50th year of independence, and urged collective responsibility in shaping Niue’s governance, emphasising the need for ownership of the Constitution. The Niue Assembly is set to reconvene for the third reading in August, and preparations are underway for the milestone celebrations in October.

Northland Students travel to Italy to honour Māori Battalion tūpuna on the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of Monte Cassino.

Fifteen cadets from Whangārei’s Leadership Academy of A Company at Te Kāpehu Whetū are embarking on a journey to honour the legacy of the Māori Battalion—alongside school leaders, Ngāti Hine leader Pita Tipene, led by academy leader Louis Paul. Departing for a two-week trip, they will visit historic sites, including Monte Cassino and Florence in Italy, paying homage to the sacrifices made during World War II. The Battle of Monte Cassino saw 28 of 200-strong Māori Battalion killed, wounded or captured.The cadets aim to uphold their memory and build upon their heritage. 

Controversy Surrounds Treaty Principles Bill, Waitangi Tribunal Inquiry Commences

The Government’s Treaty Principles Bill faces more scrutiny as the Waitangi Tribunal launches an urgent inquiry into its implications. The Bill, proposing to redefine Treaty principles through ACT’s interpretation of its articles, has sparked widespread opposition. Critics, including iwi leaders and academics, contest ACT’s definition, arguing it grants the Crown and non-Māori more rights than the Treaty intended. They fear it could effectively erase Te Tiriti o Waitangi’s significance from Crown dealings. Ngāpuhi elder Hone Sadler asserts that the proposed interpretation strays drastically from the Treaty’s original intent. The Tribunal’s historical inquiry provides context, affirming that signatory chiefs did not surrender sovereignty but agreed to share power with the Governor. As the hearing progresses, Crown representatives defend the Bill’s necessity to clarify vague Treaty principles, but concerns have been raised about the absence of Māori expertise in its development. The Tribunal’s verdict, due by month-end, will determine the Bill’s adherence to Te Tiriti o Waitangi.


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